E-commerce and Internet purchase for private use, 2010


Observations for policy

When it comes to the use of Internet for commercial purposes, national conditions explain more than regional specificities. E-commerce is closely related to the uneven access of households and enterprises to the Internet. This links e-commerce with the so-called digital division.

At the same time, factors such intellectual property legislation, security or privacy rules are of major importance in the sense that is not only available Internet access that matters, but also the level of confidence.

Policy context

Europe 2020 is the growth strategy of the European Union (EU). The focus is on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. These three mutually reinforcing priorities shall help to deliver high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. At EU level, and within each Member State, concrete objectives, targets, and flagship initiatives have been defined to boost growth and jobs.

The Digital Agenda for Europe is one of the seven flagship initiatives under Europe 2020 strategy, and aims at rebooting Europe’s economy and help its citizens to get the most our of digital technologies.

In 2011, the Internet was used for commercial purposes by 34 per cent of the EU population. The Digital Agenda aims at increasing this figure to 50 per cent in 2050.

Map interpretation

The map shows the share of individuals aged 16 to 74 who ordered goods or services over the Internet for private use. In doing so, the map shows also indirectly whether the Internet is being used for commercial purposes, i.e. how effectively it is penetrating in business across Europe.

The use of e-commerce mainly differs between countries and only to a limited degree between regions within the same country. Overall, there is quite a clear division between East and West, but also between North and South. The North West parts of Europe possess the highest percentage of persons who bought or ordered goods or services. Internet is widely used for business purposes in Finland, Norway, or Germany, and regional variations are quite residual.

At the same time, e-commerce exploitation is low across the regions of the Mediterranean countries and large parts of Eastern Europe. In these countries, e-commerce is not widely used for business purposes, including capital cities and large metropolitan regions.

Concepts and methods

The indicator shows the percentage of persons who bought or ordered goods or services over the Internet, including, but not limited to, clothes, food, books, computer software and electronic equipment.